Usain Bolt has said that the most valuable personal finance lesson he’s learned is to save more than half of his pay.
“Then you can spend the rest and pay bills,” he told CNBC Make It. “I tell people if you make $10, save $6, and then you can figure out what to do with the rest.”
The 34-year-old Jamaican sprinter, who retired in 2017, admitted that he wasn’t always good with money, and splurged more than he’d have liked to on his journey to worldwide fame. He said he would have advised his younger self to save as much as he could, according to CNBC.
Bolt set out to make big bucks after his 2004 Olympic debut at Athens when he was just 18. He said he was fortunate to have a team around him that mentored him on how money worked, and that “really helped me to understand how to save.”
The track star’s fortune has placed him at number 45 on the Forbes list of highest-paid athletes.
Bolt said that witnessing athletes dealing with long-term injuries opened his eyes to the troubling reality of what could happen if he had no savings.
He said the best career advice he’d received was from his father. “He said to me: ‘Son, anything you want, just work hard and be dedicated and you will be fine.’ And for me I’ve always lived by that,” Bolt said.
Inequity, not to be confused with inequality, is the result of injustice and cultural exclusion. Cost of Inequity explores how and why inequity persists in the institutions that govern daily life in America while illustrating the real economic cost to society.
From education to the workplace, banks, healthcare and more, this series examines the historical causes, current policies and societal norms that perpetuate unfair, avoidable differences for marginalized groups.
Insider also conducted a survey of over 1100 American workers to examine the challenges businesses face in fulfilling DEI programs. Detailed results of the survey will be published in the coming weeks.
The Historic Square in Denton, Texas, is a sprawling lawn dotted with old oak trees. On weekends, it’s a destination for families and students from Denton’s two major universities. The historic County Courthouse is in the center, surrounded by a commercial strip with a few hip coffee shops, a pizza joint where indie bands play late into the night, an old-fashioned ice cream shop, and a bookstore.
For over a century – until last June 25 – there was also a Confederate monument: A 20-foot statue of a uniformed soldier over the words, “Our Confederate Soldiers.” And for the last two decades, nearly every week on Sunday afternoon, from 4 to 7pm, a Black resident of Denton named Willie Hudspeth would set up a lawn chair, some signs, and sit in protest.
The standoff finally came to an end one year ago, exactly one month after the killing of George Floyd, when under the cover of dark, county officials quietly dismantled the monument.
Hudspeth – a retired middle school teacher, Vietnam veteran, and leader of the local NAACP – was already 54 years-old when he started his protests; by the time he watched it come down, he was 75 and bent with age. On the infamous night, Hudspeth was there, hauled out of bed at 4 in the morning by allies who heard the commotion. Cell phone video caught Hudspeth’s shocked reaction, as buzzsaws could be heard cutting through concrete. “Thank god it actually happened,” he said in an interview the next day. But the secrecy around the removal was bittersweet. “For 21-years, I have been going down there, talking about removing the statue, and it’s just like these commissioners to do what they did.”
Today, there’s no trace of the monument on the Square. Denton has changed in other ways, too.
Hudspeth’s weekly protests were a catalyst for an investigation into Denton’s past – the legacy of Klavern No. 136, Denton’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan; the razing of the Black middle class district known as Quakertown; the dates that Black men were lynched in Denton County. At the end of 2020, Denton even elected its first Black mayor – a Republican who is also Hudspeth’s son.
“He read them for filth”
For Hudspeth, the whole thing started in 1999 with a seemingly innocuous proposal to turn on a pair of water fountains that were affixed to each leg of the monument’s arch. The consensus among county leaders, all of whom were white, was that the fountains had never been operable – that pipes would have to be put down for the fountains to work.
Denton’s Black residents remembered it differently; the fountains had definitely worked, and they were “white only.”
The fountains presented a mystery, and solving it required knowing the statue’s origin story. Around the turn of the 20th century when the South was emerging from Reconstruction to enter a new world order where Black people were now free, a few groups formed to remind everybody of how things used to be, and in their view, were supposed to be. One was the KKK, whose members sang in white churches on Sunday mornings and terrorized Black neighborhoods at night. White women who wanted to do their part could join the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).
And do their part they did-all across the South, as Jim Crow ramped up in the late 1800s and “The Birth of a Nation” hit theatres in 1915, the UDC and other similar groups fundraised to erect over 700 Confederate monuments in places of public prominence. A large majority were erected between 1900 and 1920, and tended to have a cookie-cutter look, reflecting the swift establishment under the perception of lost ground from the white South. Many of the statues feature a sculpted concrete image of a soldier atop arches or mounts emblazoned with “Our Confederate Soldiers” and a plaque honoring the sons conscripted into the War of Northern Aggression. The Denton Confederate monument went up toward the end of this era, in 1918, but with one distinction-the fountains on either side of the arch.
As the debate in 1999 turned increasingly contentious, a local historian dug up old newspaper clippings that showed the fountains in use. (Years later, in 2018, the county commissioned a ground test and confirmed that the fountains had indeed been operable.) But increasingly, it was a conversation that few wanted to have, and shutting it down meant tabling the water fountain discussion altogether. “Because,” Hudspeth says of the town, “it would show they were racist.” As Hudspeth saw it, Denton needed to deal with its past and, for that to happen, the fountains had to be turned on. “Turn them on,” became his battle cry. even before the fate of the monument was on the table. “Turn them on and let everyone drink.”
County leaders held firm. “I know for a fact that the memorial has never had an operable fountain,” Mary Horn, the chair of the Denton County Commissioner’s Court, which oversaw the monument, and who would spar with Hudspeth over the monument until her retirement in 2018, said at the time. “There is NO water line from the building to the memorial and never has been.”
Hudspeth started attending nearly every Commissioner’s Court meeting to talk about the monument. He showed up at City Council meetings. Katina Stone-Butler, a local artist, remembers stumbling upon Hudspeth on the local access TV channel in the nineties. “Just giving everybody the business,” she laughs. “He read them for filth.”
The Commissioner’s Court referred Hudspeth to the Denton County Historical Commission, which then referred him to the Texas Historical Commission, which then referred him back to the Commissioner’s Court. “They had me going in circles,” Hudspeth says. “Rabbit chases to wear me down.”
Finally, Hudspeth had had enough. If county leaders weren’t willing to engage with him, he would take the conversation to the Square. “[That] Willie was angry,” Hudspeth says, looking back. “He was angry at everybody and everything. My name was chaos. I wanted to create chaos wherever I could-and I mean everywhere.”
He was working then as a junk hauler but he had Sundays off. And so, on one Sunday in 1999, he held his first protest at the foot of the Confederate monument.
To the Black community in Denton, the city’s selective memory was nothing new. The forced relocation of Quakertown proved it.
In the decades after the Civil War. Quakertown was a thriving Black merchant district near the center of town. Denton was Denton-but Quakertown was theirs. There were Black doctors and lawyers and Black-owned shops.
But then, white Denton decided that Quakertown was in the way. The College of Industrial Arts, a school for white women, had been built on the edge of Quakertown, just beyond the Square. The town claimed the students needed more space for the ladies to walk safely from school. Plans had also been drawn up for a new Denton Civic Park – exactly where Quakertown then stood. As a historical marker set down in the park in 2013 puts it, “the civic-minded interests of Denton’s white residents threatened the future of Quakertown.”
In 1921, three years after the Confederate monument went up in Denton, the town voted to relocate the whole of Quakertown to Solomon Hill, a swampy cow pasture on the other side of the railroad tracks in southeast Denton, thus giving the white ladies their walking path to school. More than 60 families lost their homes and many residents left Denton altogether. It was the same year as the Tulsa Race Massacre, 270 miles north, when the city’s “Black Wall Street” was burned and 300 people were killed.
What happened to Quakertown sealed in a wound that has not healed to this day. Some of the old Quakertown homes still sit on cinder blocks from the hasty relocation. There was never an apology from Denton’s white leadership, much less compensation offered to those who had lost their community and livelihoods.
“I think it broke their spirit, really,” says Linnie M. McAdams, who is 83 and served as Denton’s first Black councilwoman. In the 1980s, she pushed to revitalize southeast Denton, where the grandchildren of the original Quakertown residents still live to this day, but she says that getting people involved in local politics was like pulling teeth.
Once McAdams, who had come to Denton as an adult, learned the history of Quakertown, things started making sense. “I didn’t understand the devastation of that move,” she says. “And what it did to those people to be moved out of their homes over to a god forsaken area with no city services. And the city was in no hurry to do anything about it.”
Katina Stone-Butler, an artist who also moved to Denton as an adult, described a similar experience. “Black people don’t really go on the Square,” Stone-Butler says. “There’s a spiritual barrier there because of the racist history of this county.”
With two major universities in town, a world-class School of Jazz, and progressive leadership on the city council, Denton enjoys a reputation as a blue dot amid the conservative Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
But to Stone-Butler, who is Black and co-hosts the podcast, Black History for White People, it’s the same old racism, just in a hipster outfit. “Coffee house, skinny jean racism,” she says.
A long, solitary protest
That first Sunday of Hudspeth’s protest, he set up a sign that read “God loves us all” – with a smiley face for the “o” in God – and sat down in a lawn chair at the base of the monument. And for years after that, rain or shine, he stuck with it. Often, he would strike up conversations with people about the history of the statue.
As the years passed, Hudspeth’s goals shifted – a fact that his detractors would seize on. At first, he wanted the fountains turned on, along with a plaque that would explain their history of Jim Crow segregation. Later, he said the monument should be moved to a museum.
If there was going to be a Confederate monument on public property, Hudspeth figured he would be its living presence, there to offer context and perspective. If the monument paid tribute to Confederate soldiers, as Horn and its defenders claimed, Hudspeth’s protests inspired a deep look at the past.
At times, students rallied behind him, though their efforts tended to come and go with the graduation cycles. In 2008, after students circulated a petition calling for the monument’s removal, the Denton County Historical Commission announced a plan for a Quakertown House Museum dedicated to Denton’s Black history.
In walking tours, blog posts and podcasts, the excavation of Denton’s racist past had started. Students found old newspaper clippings that revealed a KKK parade through Denton in 1921, more Klan activity alongside the raising of Quakertown, and Klan ties to city leadership. When Hudspeth discovered unmarked graves at the overgrown and unkempt St. John’s Cemetery, a plaque was ordered and work began to identify the dead and piece together their stories. Denton County lynchings were catalogued.
“Willie is a heat-seeking missile man of action,” says Shaun Treat, a local activist and historian. “He doesn’t quit.”
As Hudspeth continued his protest, the tension in Denton rose.
In 2015, after the words “This is Racist” were spray-painted on top of the monument, a white man confronted Hudspeth on the Square with a loaded AK-47, shouting “Counterprotest!”
The area had been thick with families and onlookers. When police arrived, the man forfeited his ammunition but was allowed to leave the scene with his rifle. He claimed that he was there “to make a point” and was never charged. Security in the Square ramped up after that.
Pressure was also building from outside.
The 2017 “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville brought things to a head. “That was a big one,” Hudspeth says. “We [Black Lives Matter] joined together, and chaos was on again.”
In 2019, Texas finally agreed to remove from its statehouse a plaque stating that the Civil War “was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery.” Texas still observes Confederate History Month every April and, according to the Texas Observer, while the state had removed more Confederate symbols than any other, as of 2019, 68 remained.
Denton announced a new Confederate Memorial Advisory Committee, which included Hudspeth in its 15 members. When the committee voted 12-3 to keep the monument in place, but add a plaque decrying slavery and video kiosks dedicated to Black history in Denton, Hudspeth was one of the dissenting votes.
However, it was only a recommendation and the Commissioner’s Court, now led by Judge Andy Eads, needed to approve it. Eads ordered ground-penetrating tests that finally confirmed the fountains had been linked to pipes.
But then came COVID. And then, the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Confederate statues were coming down across the south. In Denton, police shot and killed Darius Tarver, a young Black man in mental crisis. There were also renewed questions about the mysterious death of Lermont Stowers Jones two years earlier on Denton’s Old Alton Bridge, a rumored site of past lynchings.
Suddenly, it wasn’t just Willie Hudspeth protesting at the Confederate monument.
On June 9, 2020, the Commissioner’s Court approved an emergency request to the Texas Historical Commission to relocate the monument to protect it from “desecration.” When Denton woke up on the morning of June 25, the Confederate soldier was gone.
Hudspeth spends his Sundays at home with his wife of 52 years, who is happy to see him simmer down for once. But he still attends county meetings, as he says, to keep its leaders in check. And he shares his views with his son, Gerard Hudspeth, who was elected as Denton’s first Black Mayor in December 2020 and has largely stayed out of Denton’s debates about race.
“My dad and I still argue politics and sometimes it gets hot,” Mayor Hudspeth says. “I am what I am because of his modeling on how to serve and be active in your community.”
“He surprises me,” Hudspeth says of his son. “We still fight. But we laugh, too.”
Hudspeth chuckles and shakes his head. “He’s doing a good job.”
What comes next is up to the Texas Historical Commission, which in April approved plans to move the monument to Denton’s Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum. McAdams, the retired councilwoman, is pushing for a memorial honoring victims of lynchings in Denton County to be installed there, too.
“That statue is a tribute to the people who have mistreated me all my life,” she says. “It gives comfort and a sense of right to those people who are bigoted and filled with hate… a symbol of the good ol’ days when they had control and you didn’t have all these n*****s walking around everywhere. That’s what it says to them.”
As Stone-Butler, the Denton artist, sees it: “It’s not enough to move a monument that has been the physical gatekeeper of racism and systemic oppression. It needs to crumble to the ground.”
“If Denton wants to put up a monument,” Stone-Butler says. “They can put up a monument of Willie Hudspeth.”
In the wake of the widespread protests against racial injustice in the US last summer, many media organizations began the – in some cases long overdue – process of looking inward for ways to create racial equity in their organizations. Public diversity statements became the norm, and many organizations started or buffed up their DEI efforts and made high-profile hires of people of color into key leadership positions.
All of this is wonderful. In fact, this internal work is necessary for all organizations committed to creating equity; however, media companies have an extra responsibility that is often overlooked. News organizations have the responsibility to understand and inform the public of the context in which a lot of this change is taking place. Because of how traditional journalism privileges things that are happening right now or in the future, the public misses a major part of the story about racial injustice, which has become a major stumbling block to moving forward.
With racial justice issues, it is often in the past where the real heart of the story lies. Without a solid understanding of what has gone on before with regards to systemic racism and injustice, it can be hard to really get a grasp on the true gravity of the situation, the deep feelings behind this most recent push for racial justice, or the intricacies of the systems that need to be dismantled in order to truly make change.
The trouble with traditional models
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last summer are a great example. Understanding the fervor with which BLM protestors pushed back against police violence requires that the reader, and thus the reporter, understand just how long-standing the tension between police and the Black community is. Not just in terms of the last few years, but also in terms of the last few decades and even centuries. Rather than starting, as many such articles do, with Rodney King – one of the first videotaped instances of police violence against a Black man – it’s more accurate to do an in-depth report on the countless unnamed people who were victims of similar violence in the decades before video evidence was available. Protests like those we saw last summer are the culmination of all of the stories that went untold in the past, not just those that are breaking in the present. However, if those stories of the past remain untold, there will always be a gap in understanding.
Traditionally, any historical context a reporter feels the reader might need in order to understand a story is added in as succinctly as possible. Usually a line or two, maybe a paragraph, describing the background is included at the end of a story. This is part of the “inverted pyramid” style of writing we often learn in journalism school. However, this practice assumes that the story’s background is common knowledge and all a reader really needs is just enough information to jog their memory or inspire them to look into the subject further on their own.
In the context of racial justice, however, this just isn’t the case. There is often no memory there to jog because so many of these historical instances of injustice went unreported in mainstream media outlets when they happened, and were then relegated to the halls of academia, where only those studying subjects like history, ethnic studies, or critical race theory had easy access to them.
Part of the problem is that up until very recently news outlets were highly segregated. Breaking news about violence and injustice enacted on communities of color were relegated to news outlets run by often wildly underfunded news organizations within the communities themselves, and were rarely reported on in the mainstream news outlets. Thus, the work that these local organizations did, as well as the work they didn’t get to report on, never became common knowledge. Instead, these stories were relegated to history with little to no reliable way of making it to mainstream consciousness.
Filling the gaps
Currently the most reliable way that these overlooked stories are being told seems to be via fictional media. For example, media interest in the 1921 Tulsa Massacre only resurfaced after its depiction in the HBO show “Watchmen”. The problem here is that TV and movies can only do so much. It’s not really the job of TV writers to inform the public, and fictionalizing these important stories shouldn’t be the only way to bring them to the public consciousness. In fact, having fictionalized versions be the first, and sometimes only, way these stories reach the mainstream media can be detrimental. Fictionalized versions of historical events can create an inaccurate understanding of the issue at hand, and cause the facts of a story to seem open to interpretation.
It is not the job of the fiction writer to educate the public and tell the facts of important stories, it’s the job of the journalist. If journalists didn’t do it adequately enough the first time, isn’t it our responsibility to go back and remedy that now?
Tell the history
Some reporters, most often reporters of color, have managed to bridge this gap in historical context with their work. Most notably journalists like Nikole Hannah-Jones, who spearheaded the award-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, or Ta-Nehisi Coates whose 2014 Atlantic piece “A Case for Reparations” sparked a national conversation that went all the way to the floor of Congress. But there are so many more important historical stories to be told, many of which don’t fit neatly into the breaking news cycle, making it difficult for journalists eager to tell these stories to find homes for them.
If news organizations are truly committed to the cause of truth telling and racial justice, it is necessary to break with tradition and find ways to tell more of the stories from the past that are so vital to creating the future we want to see.
Lynn Brown is a writer, professor, digital storyteller and traveler whose work centers on issues of race, place, culture and history. She’s an adjunct associate professor at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and the New School and her work can be found in GQ, Sierra Magazine, Ebony, Vice, and others. Find her on Twitter at @lrdbrown79.
President Joe Biden promised his Cabinet would be the most diverse in history. Recently released data revealed his progress.
After saying he wanted his administration to “look like America” in December last year, the 78-year-old president has mostly succeeded in his plan to diversify the executive branch, according to an analysis by Insider in February.
As the country tries to emerge from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Biden has installed a diverse team to forward his economic and business agenda, which includes tackling entrenched inequities.
Last week marked the first 100 days of the Biden administration. We take a look at some of the actions taken since his January inauguration to promote diversity in business, the workplace and support communities disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A $2 trillion infrastructure plan that targets funding towards underserved neighborhoods
Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill sets out to repair the country’s dilapidated road and bridge network, expand access to high-speed broadband and accelerate the clean energy transition.
The American Jobs Plan targets infrastructure projects towards historically underserved communities. The plan includes proposals to replace lead pipes that disproportionately harm Black children and a $20 billion investment to “reconnect” previously cut-off areas to affordable public transportation systems.
However, Republicans have opposed the bill, citing its “far-left” priorities and the corporate tax hike Biden has said will finance the plan.
Proposed funding to build a diverse clean-energy workforce, with investments targeted towards historically Black colleges
Biden’s administration is pushing for more solar panels to be installed in communities disproportionately affected by pollution, as part of his American Jobs Plan.
The Department of Energy announced on Tuesday that $15.5 million would go into installing solar panels in underserved communities and training a diverse clean-energy workforce.
The DOE also committed $17.3 million to fund internship and research programs, with a focus on training more students of color in STEM fields. More than $5 million will be directed to 11 colleges, including historically Black universities Howard and Florida A&M.
Historically Black colleges have long been denied equal access to federal funding opportunities, DOE secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a roundtable discussion at Howard University on Monday.
“This administration is really committed to making the transition to clean energy an inclusive transition, offering benefits to every community,” Granholm said.
A plan to introduce 12 weeks of paid family leave – and Biden hopes it will encourage women to stay in the workforce
The plan is estimated to cost $225 billion over 10 years.
The Biden administration hopes that introducing 12-weeks of paid family leave will help mothers to keep working, reduce racial disparities in lost wages, and improve children’s health.
Biden’s plan also commits to providing support for low- and middle-income families to access childcare, ensuring this does not account for more than 7% of their income, and investing in the childcare workforce.
The new order instead advances a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing racial inequities, and asks federal agencies to consider whether their policies and programs create barriers for underserved communities to access their benefits and services.
Targeted Covid-19 relief, including protections for those in insecure work
The landmark $1.9 trillion stimulus package includes funding commitments to help communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
In the law, signed in March, $5 billion is provided to farmers of color to invest in their business, buy equipment and repay loans.
“This is a big deal for us,” John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, told CBS. “We see this as a great opportunity to help thousands.”
In the package, unemployment insurance for self-employed and gig workers, such as ride-share and takeout delivery drivers, has been extended until September.
In announcing the plan, Biden called on businesses to provide back hazard pay to frontline workers – who are disproportionately Black, Latino and Asian American and Pacific Islander – in retail and grocery sectors. It was employers’ “duty,” the proposal stated, to compensate workers who had risked their lives to keep businesses running.
Biden still faces a challenging road ahead
The president’s administration has taken bold and swift action in its first 100 days, even winning praise from more left-leaning members of his own party. But the impact of Biden’s policies will only be felt in the coming months and years.
Biden still faces an uphill battle to get his Jobs Plan and Families Plan through Congress in the face of Republican opposition and with a razor-thin majority.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s alma mater, the University of Louisville, sharply criticized comments the senator made at the school this week about the history of slavery in the United States.
During the event on Monday, McConnell was asked about his views on the New York Times’ 1619 project, a long-form magazine piece published in 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in the United States. The project “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative,” according to the Times.
The question came after the Republican leader sent a letter last week to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, writing that the 1619 project strives to “reorient” US history “away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda” and urging for its removal from school curricula.
McConnell reiterated his stance on Monday, saying: “There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history. I simply disagree with the notion that the New York Times laid out there that the year 1619 was one of those years.”
“As I am sure most of you are aware, the recent statements made by Sen. Mitch McConnell during a press conference in Louisville this week are quite troubling for American descendents of slaves, our allies and those who support us,” V. Faye Jones, the school’s interim senior associate vice president for diversity and equity, wrote in a university-wide email, per WDRB.
“To imply that slavery is not an important part of United States history not only fails to provide a true representation of the facts, but also denies the heritage, culture, resilience and survival of Black people in America,” Jones continued.
Jones added that she, the university’s president, and provost each “reject the idea that the year 1619 is not a critical moment in the history of this country.”
McConnell had listed what he believed to be important dates of American history, including “dates like 1776, the Declaration of Independence, 1787, the Constitution, 1861 to 1865, the Civil War, are sort of the basic tenets of American history,” he said on Monday.
“That issue that we all are concerned about – racial discrimination – it was our original sin. We’ve been working for 200 and some odd years to get past it. We’re still working on it,” McConnell said. “And I just simply don’t think that’s part of the core underpinning of what American civic education ought to be about.”
McConnell’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
The author of the 1619 project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, pushed back on McConnell’s comments as well.
“No one can argue that 1619 was not a foundational date in American history,” Hannah-Jones said on MSNBC this week. “He’s just saying the truth is too difficult for, apparently, our nation to bear, and that we’re far too fragile to be able to withstand the scrutiny of the truth.”
The criticism comes as the Biden administration has emphasized tackling racial inequality and discrimination in the country.
When R. Donahue Peebles first set foot on the sand of the Beach Club in Miami in 1996, toured its three acres of private beach, two clay tennis courts, and 26,000-square-foot clubhouse, he had no idea he would be the private social club’s first African American member.
“It was a beautiful Mediterranean building,” said Peebles, who is the founder of the multi-billion dollar real estate development company Peebles Corporation. He’d come to Miami to build the Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach – a project that would make him the first African American to develop a major hotel in the US.
And that wouldn’t be his last first: In 2000, Peebles bought this very social club, remaking its image after decades of excluding people of color. He and his wife Katrina, who is creative director at Peebles Corporation, invested $8 million renovating the club, which reopened this February with a membership list curated by the couple.
The new Bath Club, they said, will be a place where everyone is welcome – and Peebles has a plan to recoup his investment by catering to a new generation of private club-goers who value his family’s “exclusively inclusive” approach.
‘This wasn’t the barrier I was looking to break’
Founded in 1926, the Bath Club was the first private social club established in the Southeast United States. It was a place of leisure for the Vanderbilt, Cartier, and Boeing families, though minorities, especially Black and Jewish people, were barred from entering.
Though Peebles joined seventy years later and thirty years after the end of the Jim Crow era, he said there were moments when he felt used – a mere vehicle to help the storied club change its image. “This wasn’t the barrier I was looking to break,” Don said.
Miami Beach has a long history of racism and discrimination. In fact, it used to be a sundown town, a nearly all-white community that banned Black people past sunset. Aside from the Bath Club, other prominent social clubs, such as Indian Creek and the Everglades Club, have all faced decades-long criticism for their policies which appear to discriminate against Black and Jewish communities. Some of these clubs have found a loophole in a Florida law that only explicitly bans clubs with over 400 members from discriminating against minorities.
Freddy Stebbins, a history and sociology professor at Miami Dade College, told Insider the old Bath Club used to send postcards that said “gentiles only” on the back – a way to signal they didn’t want Jewish people to enter the club. (In 1947 Miami Beach passed a law banning businesses from displaying signs that used the distinction.)
“It was a boy’s club,” Stebbins said, adding that members were typically those from the North who had money, wealth, and prestige. “You most often had to be Protestant. You could definitely not be a person of color and you could definitely not be Jewish.”
Things began to change, however, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the end of Jim Crow. The area experienced an influx of immigrants and new money. Then, in 1996, came Peebles.
More diverse than ever before, but still just as exclusive
As the demographics of South Florida began to change, old-school exclusive clubs fell on hard times. Over 70% of the region’s population is Latino, compared to an overall 27% for the state of Florida. As of 2018, over 50% of the population was born outside of the United States (the national average is just 13%). Miami has the highest population of Cubans outside of Cuba; it has a vibrant Haitian community in what’s known as “Little Haiti,” and a Colombian population nearing 300,000.
In the modern era, the Bath Club struggled to attract new members. After it experienced financial difficulties, Peebles won a bid to buy it in 2000 for $10 million. At first, he allowed the club’s original owners to retain rights; he built a luxury tower and six beachside villas on the property.
But around 2013, he began buying out club members. Two years later, his company took full control of the club and used it as an event space. It was Katrina who suggested turning it back into a social club.
The aim for the new Bath Club, said Katrina, is to be “exclusively inclusive.” As a biracial couple, both have experienced feeling like the “only” people in the room and felt buying the historic Bath Club sends a message. “It could show how far Miami and even America has come,” she said.
The club may be more diverse than ever before, but it’s still just as exclusive. The initiation fee is $20,000 with annual dues costing $18,000 – a steal compared to other clubs where initiation fees can start at $200,000. Membership is capped at 200 and is via referral by a member, or the Peebles themselves.
So far, about 150 of the memberships have been sold, though they declined to share to whom beyond saying the group included some “high profile” people. The Peebles are fixtures on the nation’s social scene, having hosted campaign fundraisers for both the Clintons and the Obamas.
Peebles says he’s already made a third of his $8 million investment back. The rest he’s expecting to recoup in less than two years.
Enter, the new Roaring 20s
The club’s exclusivity is a selling point to many new members, as it gives the opportunity to socially distance while lounging in a cabana on a private beach.
The private dining spaces, ballroom, spa, and restaurant attracted new members like Lauren Geduld, who told the Miami Herald she joined the club alongside her husband and two daughters, looking for a place to entertain themselves safely and privately. “The beach is what attracted us. It’s located in such a special part of Miami Beach. The service is great. The food is great. It has such a magical environment.”
The interiors, done by female-founded firm Antrobus + Ramirez, contain floral patterns, with a mix of retro-furnishings. The Prohibition-era secret doors were restored, and the new menus are curated by the Apicii Hospitality, which also worked on the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Orlando.
The US market for golf courses and country clubs hit over $20 billion last year and is expected to increase at least 2% over the next five years. Calling the social club industry “interesting,” Peebles isn’t in a rush to buy another one. In fact, he said, when he bought the club he didn’t even necessarily have plans to reopen it; he just wanted to preserve it. But then of course, on the cusp of a bustling new jazz age, it would be quite irresistible not to share that white-sand view of the twinkling night sky above the Atlantic.
“It was a long winding road to get us here,” Don said. “But buildings tell stories, and this one tells the American story of how we were segregated, how our wealth was concentrated racially, then someone like me bought it, and, along with my wife, this is what we did with it.”
Controversy has arisen in the UK after a much anticipated report investigating race and ethnic disparities apparently found no evidence of institutional racism in the country; instead heralding Britain as a model for other white majority nations.
The United Kingdom, much like the rest of the world, is having a moment of reckoning about racial injustice, further complicated by its colonialist past. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 that followed the killing of George Floyd in America, the UK government established the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities to help address concerns about the racial inequalities that permeate British society even today. But the report’s failure to find evidence of systemic injustice should leave us all questioning its authors’ intention.
Due to the importance of such reports – which gain considerable media coverage and are often relied on by government officials, academics, and policy makers to inform their decision making – it is imperative that the members of the commission are impartial experts that have tremendous credibility. However, eyebrows were raised when this particular panel, which is meant to be independent, seemed to mostly consist of individuals whose ideology was in line with the Conservative government’s views and lacked expertise in many of the matters being investigated. Former Shadow Home Secretary and current Labour MP Diane Abbott – the first Black woman to be elected to Parliament – went as far as accusing the government of consciously packing it with people who did not believe in institutional racism. And others who took part in the report are now trying to distance themselves from its results.
Therefore, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, then, that this report went against the findings of several other major inquiries in the past 20 years that had found evidence of systemic racism – including the landmark 2017 Lammy Review that found significant racial bias in the UK justice system. It has become apparent now that instead of taking the opportunity to truly explore the issues of racial inequality and discrimination, the report appeared to be tailored to fit a pre-determined narrative that suited the government and reaffirmed its skepticism of institutional racism.
There is plenty of evidence regarding systemic racism – in 2021, one would have to be willfully ignorant to deny it. But in keeping the discussion stuck at debating the existence of a deeply entrenched discriminatory phenomenon that clearly affects a significant percentage of the population negatively, the government has ensured that no progress whatsoever is made in addressing the resulting racial disparities – which was what we were led to believe the commission was set up to do in the first place.
While the report does acknowledge that racial disparities still exist, its authors argue that “geography, family influence, socio-economic background, and culture and religion” play a significant role. Ethnic minorities opposed to the findings of the report seemingly get painted as perpetual moaners who’ve absorbed “a fatalistic narrative that says the deck is permanently stacked against them” and can’t bring themselves to appreciate the incredible progress Britain has made transforming itself into “a beacon to the rest of Europe and the world”.
Thus, the discussion has devolved into a farcical debate on patriotism, where those criticising this ‘positive’ news about Britain face accusations of just having an irrational hatred for the country instead of legitimate grievances. It feeds directly to the biases of much of the Conservative vote base, many who are vocal about how they believe people of colour, anti-racism campaigners and experts want to make everything about race, and how those complaining of racism have a victimhood complex.
The backlash and condemnation of the report has been swift and comprehensive. Several academics have criticised it as a sloppy piece of work and accused it of distorting and misrepresenting research. Many of the experts thanked for their help with the report have publicly come out and denied their involvement with its contents. And as I mentioned before, some of the commissioners have now come out and distanced themselves from the final report; with allegations that it was the government – and not the 12 commissioners – that produced many of the controversial sections of the finished product. The government has been urged to withdraw the report, with many rights campaigners fearing that its continued circulation will “take us back to the ‘colour bar’ of the 1960s.”
But whether a Prime Minister who has conducted an obvious attempt at whitewashing racism listens to such concerns remains to be seen. The hypocrisy of a government investigating itself by appointing ‘yes people’ to exonerate it and further its agenda – even allegedly rewriting their report to ensure the desired outcome – is galling.
The repercussions of this cynical act will continue to be felt, with the credibility of such ‘independent’ government commissions severely damaged. What is crystal clear, however, is that we cannot look to this administration for any meaningful action to address racial disparities. Our struggle for racial equality continues, it is just a shame that the government continues to actively make things worse for the marginalised communities it is also meant to serve.
Mohammad Zaheer is a journalist and political commentator.
The declaration was coordinated by the UK-based organization, Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, and has gained 21 signatories. They include Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry Ice cream, Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, Helene Gayle, a director at the Coca-Cola Company, and telecom tycoon, Dr. Mo Ibrahim.
The push to end the death penalty comes amid a global focus on racial and economic justice, exemplified by the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
In an interview with Insider, Branson described the death penalty as “barbaric” and “inhumane.” He explained his involvement in several cases throughout the years where innocent people were sent to death row, in the US and elsewhere. This led him to realize capital punishment is arbitrary and flawed, he said.
Branson gave an example of a case he took up, which involved Anthony Ray Hinton, a man who spent 28 years on Alabama’s death row before being exonerated in 2015. “He was framed for a double murder he didn’t commit, only because the police and prosecutors needed a Black man to convict,” Branson said.
For every eight people executed in the US, one person is freed from death row – often after decades, as was the case with Hinton, Branson added.
This case, among others, highlighted another problem for Branson – that the death penalty is also a symbol of oppression, as well as racial and social inequality.
“Look at people on death row. In most US cases, it’s people of colour and the poor that are sent to death row,” he said. “Some in the US have called it a ‘direct descendant of lynching’, and I’d say there is much evidence of that. In some countries, it’s become a tool of political control and oppression,” Branson said.
Branson believes it is even more crucial to end capital punishment, given it is a wasteful and ineffective misallocation of public funds. Now more than ever, governments must be responsible with public finances given the hard hit on countries’ economies due to the pandemic, he said. “Public funding could be spent on schools, healthcare, infrastructure instead,” he added.
The involvement of so many notable business leaders in the campaign demonstrates an increasing willingness to speak up on issues of inequality, the danger of executing innocent people, and the need for fiscal responsibility.
“We have to ask ourselves: does the death penalty serve a real purpose for us as caring human beings?” Gayle said in a statement. She noted how it felt even more urgent to focus attention on preventable deaths in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its terrible loss of life.
Cohen and Greenfield wanted to ensure they played their part, too. They told Insider: “We have some of the world’s loudest voices – and we have a responsibility to use them to fight injustice wherever we see it.”
Businesses need to do more than just say Black Lives Matter, they added: “We need to walk our talk and help tear down symbols of structural racism.”
Jason Flom, chief executive of multimedia company Lava Media, is also involved with the campaign. When asked about the main objectives he hoped to achieve, he told Insider: “Goals include changing hearts and minds in the general public, as well as educating the next generation of prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and prospective jurors.”
There are 56 countries that still retain death-penalty laws as of 2019, according to Amnesty International. Since 2013, 33 countries have carried out at least one execution, the BBC reported. More than 170 UN member states, out of 194, have abolished capital punishment in law or declared a moratorium.
Three months into the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the US, rates of vaccine acceptance have steadily climbed for Black and Latinx Americans but stayed low among white Republicans, according to recent polling by Civiqs.
Early polls about vaccine attitudes in the US revealed Black Americans were more likely to be vaccine hesitant compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Noting this gap, public health officials initiated national and local vaccine outreach efforts targeting minority groups.
But vaccine acceptance campaigns so far have failed to address who may be the most vaccine hesitant group at this point in the rollout: white Republicans.
Republicans, especially white ones, are less likely to want to get vaccinated
According to Civiqs, 56% of white Republicans said they were either unsure or would not take a COVID-19 vaccine if it were available to them, compared to 31% of Black Americans, 30% of Latinx Americans, and just 7% of white Democrats.
“Vaccines are our only way out of this. If we don’t have 80-plus percent of the population vaccinated before next winter, this virus is going to come back raging,” Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee, told NBC News. “What worries me is if 25 percent of Republicans say they won’t get vaccinated, that’s going to be hard to do.”
In fact, some polls have found rates of vaccine refusal among Republicans could exceed 25%. When considering vaccine acceptance based on party lines alone, 41% of Republicans said they don’t plan to get a vaccine if it’s available to them.
Pollsters at Indiana University found that blue states have lower rates of vaccine refusal than red states, and battleground states are generally somewhere in the middle.
More data from a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll published last week showed that 47% of people who supported Trump in 2020 said they wouldn’t choose to be vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he found it “disturbing” that Trump supporters were avoiding the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is not a political issue. This is a public health issue,” Fauci said in another news appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Axios’ Orion Rummler reported.
Black and Latinx Americans still have gotten fewer vaccines
Despite a shift towards vaccine acceptance in polling, Black and Latinx Americans still have received fewer vaccines than their white counterparts, according to available racial data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled race and ethnicity data for just over half of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among that group, nearly two thirds (66%) were white, 9% were Hispanic, and 7.5% were Black, as of March 14.
Although white Americans constitute a greater proportion of healthcare workers and adults over 65 – groups that have gotten priority in the vaccine rollout – the country’s Black and Latinx populations have been more than two to three times more vulnerable to severe disease and death from the coronavirus overall.
Experts have previously told Insider that increasing outreach and education, improving access to vaccines, and partnering with trusted members of the Black and Latinx communities could increase vaccine uptake.